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What Do You Do in the Calm After the Storm?

By Glynn Young

It’s the calm after the storm.

For months, it’s been days and weeks of intense writing, rewriting, editing, re-editing, adding to, and subtracting from. I thought novel #4 would be a relative slam dunk, since large chunks of it have existed for more than a decade. All I had to do was add a few thousand words and polish it up, and then it would be ready, correct?

Well, no.

What finally emerged as a completed manuscript draft bears little resemblance to the text I started with. The story idea remained the same, but along the way a supplementary narrative was added, characters changed, new conflicts emerged, and the original text was rewritten at least three times. Then it was editing and proofing and fact-checking.

Finally, it was done, the send button clicked, and my manuscript was in the hands of the publisher.

Overnight, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

For a couple of days, I decompressed. I did nothing. And doing nothing felt strange. I had been in such a regular pattern of working on the manuscript, and for such a long period, that I felt disoriented. There wasn’t a manuscript to check and review first thing in the morning. Or right before lunchtime. Or the afternoon. Or after dinner. There wasn’t a story line to consider while trying to all asleep at night. There was no debate about whether or not a character needed to go or stay.

A few small (in terms of time commitment) things happened. The publisher asked about what I ideas I had for the cover. We’re now looking at four possibilities. He asked about what reviews of earlier novels to quote. We talked about the “back cover blurb.”

I started thinking seriously about marketing. I wrote a couple of articles. I set up a Pinterest site for the new book and found photographs to help populate it. I started looking through hundreds of photographs I’ve taken of the book’s setting. I made a list of early readers and began to contact them. I began talking about the book – a significant change in that I had said nothing specific to anyone, including my wife (although she suspected what I was up to). A marketing plan is being drafted. I’m reading more and finding time to do book reviews.

But this calm after the storm still seems strange, like I’m not really working.

Like everyone else working on a novel, I write to be read. But I’m beginning to wonder if this business of writing isn’t about being read at all. Perhaps it is really, really about the writing, that we writers will always find ourselves at loose ends unless we’re writing.

This period of calm is rather unnerving.

But then there’s this image in my head, an image of a family sitting at breakfast. The mother is reading the newspaper, and then she looks up at her husband, startled by what she has just read. And she’s angry.

The calm after the storm may be ending.

Glynn Young is a national award-winning speechwriter and communications executive. He’s the author of three published novels, Dancing PriestA Light Shining, and Dancing King; the forthcoming novel Dancing Prophet;  and the non-fiction book Poetry at Work. Visit Glynn at FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, his blog, the Dancing Priest book page, and his business web site.

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to What Do You Do in the Calm After the Storm?

  1. I so agree that when writers are not writing they’re at loose ends! Great post.

  2. Susan says:

    “But then there’s this image in my head, an image of a family sitting at breakfast. The mother is reading the newspaper, and then she looks up at her husband, startled by what she has just read. And she’s angry.

    The calm after the storm may be ending.”

    The beginning of a fifth novel perhaps?